Our History Kiwanis was founded in Detroit, Michigan on January 21, 1915. The name “Kiwanis” stems from an Indian phrase which, roughly translated, means “to express one’s self.”
One early Kiwanis International leader, Russell Ward, came from Jackson, Michigan.
Ward became one of the main leaders in the organization and policymaking of the new group. In 1917 Ward and other leading businessmen from Jackson began discussing how they could establish a club in Jackson. Our club was formed on January 2, 1918—the ninth in the state of Michigan. When the club was chartered on April 15, 1918, there were sixty-five members.